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Period Story Podcast, Episode 25: Jasmin Thomas, Have Confidence In Your Voice

On today’s episode of Period Story podcast, I’m so happy to share my conversation with Jasmin Thomas, the founder of Ohana CBD

Jasmin and I had a wide ranging conversation, including discussing her multiple sclerosis diagnosis, Rastafarianism, medicinal cannabis, Jasmin’s decision to start Ohana CBD, being Black and female in the cannabis industry and of course, the story of her first period. 

Jasmin says she felt quite isolated and uncomfortable when she got her first period. She says that as she was growing up her period was okay and that as she got older, she started to tune into her body more, understand her menstrual cycles, track her menstrual cycles. 

Jasmin shares her story of coming off the pill. She says she didn’t feel as though she felt real emotions whilst on it and when she came off the pill, she started to feel everything a lot more.

Listen to hear about Jasmin talk about multiple sclerosis and the symptoms that led her to seek out a diagnosis, the support networks she leant on and how she explored natural medicinal options to manage the condition.

We talk about Jasmin’s family links to Rastafarianism and medical cannabis and how this led to the birth of her company, Ohana CBD. She said that she had a desire to live her most authentic life and starting her own company was a part of this.

We talk about Jasmin being a Black female in the cannabis industry and what Jasmin has done to hold others in the industry accountable. 

Jasmin says that we should have confidence in our voices and live as our most authentic selves and I completely agree! 

Get in touch with Jasmin:

Website

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

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JASMIN’S BIO

Jasmin Thomas is the founder of Ohana CBD, a vegan, functional and CBD-infused skincare company. Ohana products are 100% natural and contain unique formulations that combine powerful plant properties that serve the skin, from seed to self.

Jasmin was diagnosed with MS in 2015.  She started using cannabis to alleviate various frustrating symptoms of her condition. Her medical journey led to her professional one, which now allows her to pursue her passions.

In 2018, Jasmin co-founded entOURage Network, a women’s empowerment organisation that cultivates a platform for people to engage and explore Europe’s legal cannabis market. 

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Le’Nise [00:00:00] On today’s episode, we have Jasmin Thomas. Jasmin is the founder of Ohana CBD, a vegan functional and CBD infused skin care company. Ohana products are 100 percent natural and contain unique formulations that combine powerful plant properties that serve the skin from seed to self. Jasmin was diagnosed with MS, multiple sclerosis, in 2015. She started using cannabis to alleviate various frustrating symptoms of her condition. Her medical journey led her led to her professional one, which now allows her to appreciate her passions. In 2018, Jasmin co-founded Entourage Network, a women’s empowerment organisation that cultivates a platform for people to engage and explore Europe’s legal cannabis market. Welcome to the show. 

Jasmin [00:00:48] Thank you so much for having me. 

Le’Nise [00:00:50] Let’s get into it. So tell me the story of your very first period. 

Jasmin [00:00:55] So I remember actually very, very well. I was 16. I was actually 16 and a half. It was August. And I was in Newquay in Cornwall. And I was at a post GCSE trip as my first trip away from my parents with my friends. And we were about two or three days into the trip. 

[00:01:19] And I was saying at this hospital with all my girlfriends and I, that’s when I first came on my period. And I remember I didn’t. I was like, oh, what am I going to use, I didn’t have anything with me? And then all of my friends had, like, you know, had started their period, like years before. Some of them had started them when they were 10, 11, others when they were 13. So I was really the last one to the party and they handed me a tampon and I did not feel comfortable using it at all. 

[00:01:52] Like nothing had been up there before. So I didn’t really feel comfortable using it. I was like, oh, crap. And I felt quite isolated. I was like, they didn’t understand why I didn’t use a tampon. And then I had to kind of like, you know, go to the shop and get pads. And I just felt really uncomfortable. And where we were staying in this hostel, it wasn’t really that great. We were. It was a 16 year old’s budget. So I actually just got the train home because I just remember I went to see my mom and I wanted my mom so, like, navigate and it’s time for me. 

Le’Nise [00:02:24] So you were 16 and you said that your friends had gotten their periods much earlier, so one as early as 10. What did you feel in the lead up to your period arriving? Which. Did you have a sense that it was about to come or. And were you. What did you know? What was what was it going to happen in terms of what a period actually was? 

Jasmin [00:02:47] So I knew a period was and I knew some of my friends had started it theirs. And I remember actually when I was much younger, my best ever friends since I was seven years of age when we were about nine, her mom bought us these matching books because we liked everything to be matching our clothes, our books, absolutely everything. She brought us matching books, called Hairs In Funny Places which describe developing breasts, developing your period. So my family is very open. So I was always very aware that I was going to get my period what it was. For some reason, because I just didn’t get it and I didn’t get it to like I don’t know what compared to my peers was quite late. I just didn’t think about it. So I was quite shocked when it happened. Even though I had been in situations before where I could actually also remember now that my cousin came on her period for the first time when we were staying at my dad’s house. 

[00:03:50] But even then, I remember my dad not really knowing  what to do and calling my mom like, you need to come and help me. Like, you know, our niece has just started her period. I didn’t feel any sense of like particular symptoms or anything like that leading up to that date in August when I was just over 16, that first started. 

Le’Nise [00:04:11] So you got your train home because you wanted to be with your mom? Totally understandable. And when you got home, what did your mom say? 

Jasmin [00:04:22] I don’t actually remember that part in a lot detail, to be honest. I remember she was just like she was quite encouraging of me to stay. And she was that, you know, you’ll be okay. Fine. But, I mean, I never really liked. I’ve always been quite a homebody anyway and kind of like being close to my mom. So I was like, this didn’t feel comfortable. But I remember she always wanted me to use pads. She wasn’t really comfortable with me using tampons. And then I didn’t until I did. I didn’t. And I didn’t actually start using tampons until after I had had sex. 

Le’Nise [00:05:03] And did that make a difference? 

Jasmin [00:05:06] It just made me feel more comfortable with inserting something inside me. I think that’s kind of like where my logic was coming from. At the time. But yeah, from then for the next 10 years, I then use tampons like for every period. I never used another sanitary towel. 

Le’Nise [00:05:27] And what was your relationship like with your period after you talked about the transition from pads to tampons? What about the experience of the period? 

Jasmin [00:05:38] So my period when I was younger was always really it was an okay experience. I’ve never really had like a very heavy flow. So things like leaking through my clothes and stuff like that. That’s never happened to me. I’ve always like as, especially as I’ve got older. I’ve got a lot more in tune with my body, so I know exactly when it’s going to come so I didn’t get caught short. But yeah, it was kind of okay, I didn’t really until I was twenty six is when I really started to tune into my body, understand my cycles, start tracking my cycles. Kind of like get up into the key science of when my period was. And then also that’s also when I became more conscious about using tampons and what kind of contraception I used and how that could potentially affect my period. My periods did get a bit more heavy. I do actually suffered from quite sometimes quite severe period pains as well. So the first day of my period is always a bit of a nightmare. I’m exhausted and I can’t really do much. But then it only last three or four days thereafter and it’s really light and it’s fine. 

Le’Nise [00:06:50] Talk about why you started tracking your period and what led you what you how you started that process. 

Jasmin [00:06:59] That was mainly because so 26 was maybe a bit too early, I should think. I started that when I was twenty seven. So from the age of maybe 17 to 20 or 25, I was on the pill. And then obviously when I was diagnosed with M.S. at 25, I started looking at my lifestyle very holistically. So I looked I opted for medical cannabis for my choice of drug. I started looking at my skincare routine and eliminating all toxins and potential hormone disruptors from my my everyday routines, my diet and lifestyle. And that really got me thinking of what the pill could potentially be doing to my body and any adverse effects. And I also felt like I just didn’t really feel like real emotions while I was on the pill. I found it very confusing. So I wanted to get very, very in tuned in my body. I didn’t want to take contraception, so I wanted to look in to natural cycling. And that is when I started to track my period and have been doing so ever since. 

Le’Nise [00:08:14] So was it the MS diagnosis that made you come off of with the pill? 

Jasmin [00:08:20] I was already actually off the pill just because I didn’t have a partner at that time, so I came off the pill when I was 24. I didn’t have a partner again until I was 26. So I think that had a contributing factor to exploring natural cycles in a lot more detail. 

Le’Nise [00:08:43] Talk a little bit about that. What happened to you as you as you came off the pill? I’ve always find these stories quite interesting because they can vary so widely. So you you said earlier that early about how you knew didn’t really feel your mood. So talk a little bit about that process. 

[00:09:07] Well, yeah. I just did it. Really. So I don’t really feel like I didn’t feel like I’d felt real emotions. And I had also noticed how it distrupted my feelings about someone or my feelings within a relationship. And also, like not feeling the like the signs of PMS. So I wasn’t really feeling any of these emotions. And once I came off the contraceptive pill, I really started to feel everything a lot more. So it became a lot. I became a lot more in tune with my body because then I would know when I’m gonna come on my period. I would know when I’m ovulating. I was like, I’m really sensitive. So I really I can really feel even when I’m ovulating, like, I know, like just from like those pains in my stomach or the little twinges that I feel. So I think it just really helped me coming to terms with that. And then also just looked at other things I could support myself with state of mind and mood to other natural supplements to to support me through my monthly cycle. 

Le’Nise [00:10:13] It’s quite in. I’m not saying that 24 is young, but to be able to make that decision that you wanted to feel you moods and you wanted to get more in touch with yourself at that age is quite I think was quite astute. I think what my experience of women coming off the pill is typically in their in their early 30s that they start to think differently about that. So I think it’s really interesting that you made that decision when you were so young. 

Jasmin [00:10:46] It was it was heavily influenced. I think, like, I am basically my mother’s twin. I really, really my mom has never been on the contraceptive pill before. She’s either always on natural cycling or used condoms. And we had had these conversations and, you know, she my kind of like holistic approach to life has very much come from her and probably influenced the type of medicine that I have since used since being diagnosed with MS as well, because we grew up with a homeopath. And, you know, my whole entire time is vegetarian slash vegan. Everything’s very plant based. Everything’s very holistic. There is like a lot of use of natural medicine. And I think that has really influenced me since an extremely young age. So I have always been quite conscious about these things and then just implemented them again and they really came to the forefront of my mind once I was diagnosed and had to kind of like evaluate my life and, you know, put strategic things in place and pillars in place to make sure that I was going to continue living my best life with the with the education that I had. Kind of like, you know, that I received from my my family up until that date. 

Le’Nise [00:12:10] Can you talk a little bit about your MS diagnosis? But before you get into that, can you share for listeners who don’t know what MS, multiple sclerosis is, more about what this condition is? 

Jasmin [00:12:25] Yeah, of course. So MS, as you said, is multiple sclerosis. It is a autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. And to be more specific, it is the protein that protects the myelin sheath, which is the nerve endings in your brain and spinal cord that it attacks. And I was diagnosed on the first of December 2015 and I first noticed symptoms from the summer of 2015. One of the triggers of symptoms can be heat. And that summer I was in Marrakech in July, and it was like 43 degree heat. 

[00:13:05] It was so hot I literally couldn’t do anything. I remember, like, not even be able to get in the pools and pools so warm. And I was like stuck under a parasol the whole time. And then when I got back, I had lost the hearing in my right ear quite considerably, and I was like, this is so weird. I had also been on like 10 flights that year so far. So I was like, maybe I’ve been flying too much. It’s just affected my ear. 

[00:13:31] But then I kind of also had vertigo and I was having extreme exhaustion every day at four o’clock. But I left it a couple of months and then I was like, I also had vibrations down my spinal cord. And I was like, wow, I’m really working out too hard in the gym cause I could really feel this in my back. And I was like saying my other friends that, you know, after doing loads of sit ups, do you really feel it in your spine? And they’re like, yeah. So you get the tremors and they’re like, yes. I said, okay, cool, this is normal. And then by September, October time, my my hearing hadn’t returned. So I was like okay I should probably go to the doctor’s about this now. And I got referred to the Nose, Ear and Throat Hospital in King’s Cross and they checked out my ear. And was that there’s nothing wrong with your eardrum. Everything’s fine. But you do have quite considerable hearing loss. You know, we can give you a hearing aid, but you should probably just go. It’s obviously something to your brain. So go for a scan. And so they sent me off for an MRI and then it came back that it was most likely going to be MS, which I was quite shocked about, because, again, going off my family history, no one’s had any illnesses. 

[00:14:41] And it’s been kind of like, you know, we haven’t even had anyone in the family with cancer. So we had never I’d never really experienced an illness before or any kind of serious illness in my family. So, yeah, that was quite a shock. And then. Yeah, so kind of that that’s how I found out. I had a saying I’d never experience any serious illness in my family was actually not true. Thinking back about I did actually have quite severe meningitis septicaemia when I was 17, which I think could be a contributing factor as to why I maybe then went on to develop MS because I did have yeah, I did have meningitis when I was 17 and I caught it quite late so it was quite severe. 

Le’Nise [00:15:29] So talk about the support that you you had around you when you got your diagnosis. You said you were shocked. So what what sort of support networks did you lean on? 

Le’Nise [00:15:42] So my family were really, really supportive and they still are still to this day. I then went to therapy as well. So I had therapy at the time to deal with that. But if I’m being really honest, the initial shock didn’t really last that long. And then I mean, I remember actually sitting in the room with my mom and the doctor telling us, the neurologist telling us my mom was crying and I just didn’t really cry. And I kind of just thought, like, you know, I’ve kind of always been a things happen for a reason type of person. No point in crying over spilt milk, though. I’m quite optimistic. So I’m like, okay, that’s fine. Like, there is a way to go over there and never really had. 

[00:16:33] Yeah, I was I never reached out like depressed or hard done by by it. I kind of just the yeah, I think the natural reaction in within me was I okay like, let’s go on with this now. How am I going to fix it? How am I going to manage it and how am I  just going to make sure that this doesn’t stop me in achieving any of my goals in life. 

Le’Nise [00:16:54] Wow. So you had you had quite a go getting attitude to then moving forward with it with MS? 

Jasmin [00:17:03] Yeah, definitely. I almost immediately knew that I didn’t want to accept any of the disease modifying drugs just because some of them didn’t really align with my personal beliefs. And, you know, I’d grown up a vegetarian my whole life. I was already vegan by then as well. And a lot of the lot of the medicines were based around animal fats. I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable putting in my body at the time. The other drug options were like things like chemotherapy. I was only 25. I want to have kids one day. So there were a lot of kind of like factors around it. And then some of them give you a 30 percent chance of then living with a thyroid issue for the rest of your life, which you have to take more medicine for. 

[00:17:47] So my rationale and thinking at that time and kind of like I think because of my, because my family influence always has been, there’s a natural alternative way to get on with it. So that’s when I really started exploring natural medicines. My granddad is a Rasta from the Caribbean. So he had been using cannabis for the whole of my life, as had other people in my family. So something that was very open and discussed and talked about. So I was already aware that cannabis was seen as a potential medicine. Also, weirdly enough, on the 2nd of December, the day after I was diagnosed, I started a new job in a business development role. And the first client that I was handed was a company called GW Pharmaceuticals. And they are the biggest medical exporters of cannabis globally. And the drug, the one drug they had approved at that time was a drug called Sativex. And it was medical cannabis specifically designed for MS patients. 

Le’Nise [00:18:58] Oh, wow. So that’s like literally like the universe. Oh, yeah. Whatever you believe. Sending something right in in your path. That is that is incredible. 

Jasmin [00:19:10] It was super, super weird. And my my boyfriend at the time was also a Rasta who ran a hydroponic shop. So he was very deeply ingrained in the cannabis industry already. My granddad had been teaching us our whole lives about that. And then the day after I started that new job. And that was the first client I was given. So I believe in this. Those signs. Exactly. And, of course, I was definitely happy to follow them. 

Le’Nise [00:19:38] Can you just talk a little bit for listeners who might not be aware of, firstly, what Rastafarians are and the role of cannabis within Rastafarianism? 

Jasmin [00:19:55] Yeah, sure. Rastas don’t really like to be referred to as a religious community. They are a collective of people who believe in God, and they do they follow the Bible. And they believe that cannabis can be used as a sacrament and can basically help bring you to a higher state of meditation. And that could also encourage reasoning, which is a compensation to explore subject matters that you can one day become enlightened on, essentially. 

Le’Nise [00:20:39] Wow, that’s so interesting. 

Jasmin [00:20:41]  Very snapshot. 

Le’Nise [00:20:43] Yeah. Yeah. There’s so many questions I could ask you off the back of that. And so there it started in in Jamaica. Is that right? 

Jasmin [00:20:57] Yes, it did. So it starts in Jamaica there proper. It was started, well, what the Rastas follow is the word of Marcus Garvey and Marcus Garvey said, you look to the you know, you look to Africa for the next rising basically. And he will come in the form of, I think I hope I’m saying this right, I think it is direct lineage of King Solomon. And he will be he will be you know, him and his queen will be seen as equals. And they he will be a he will be a leader that has not been conquered. 

[00:21:39] And that. They see that, as Marcus Garvey was talking about Haile Selassie, who, you know, him and his wife were crowned on the same day, so they were seen as equals. He’s seen as having direct lineage, lineage to I think is King Solomon. I really hope this is right. And then also, they were Ethiopia at that time was a country that was that kind of like fought off the Italians from conquering them. So they saw that as their next leader. And Haile Selassie is the second coming to them and who they follow. 

Le’Nise [00:22:20] That’s so interesting. And in terms of the cannabis element of it, you say you grew up knowing this about cannabis and the background and the importance of cannabis to Rastas. So when you got your MS diagnosis, talk about how you said you started using cannabis to start to alleviate some of your symptoms. 

Jasmin [00:22:47] So it’s quite funny because even I grew up like around and knowing the benefits. I didn’t actually ever use it myself. So it wasn’t really like a recreational cannabis user. So it wasn’t my first experience, but it was still one of my very early experiences. So I started to smoke it. So any time that I got aches and pains, frustrating symptoms, I would smoke it and it would literally relieve my symptoms within like 10 to 15 seconds. It was always, always very quickly. However, cannabis affects everybody differently. And I was not somebody who was a functional stoner. So I would always have to wait until the evening until I was done with work for me to be able to medicate. One of the other ways that I liked consuming it was in food. So I quite liked edibles just because I liked cooking and it was quite different creative way of doing it. And then also sometimes it’s just really easy. So if you don’t always want to smoke, then I could just like eat a chocolate truffle that tastes absolutely delicious and it’s going to have the same effects. Another way that I started using it was in topicals. So obviously, like I said when I was at work, I’m not able to consume and I’m also just not able to like function. So I use topical application and I would bring that to work with me. So if I ever did have, like, sore knees or sore hips or muscles like muscles where like my my symptoms at that time, then I would use a topical application which would again give me a lot of relief and kind of hence where Ohana was birthed from through falling in love with the topical use. After about two years I because I was working in the space and that I had really, really good a good overview to the formulation scientists, the pharmacovigilance team, and really understanding for the first time the actual science behind it and understanding the science behind cannabis, how it interacts with our bodies, how it interacts with our brain, the entourage effect and how it kind of like how it was helping me. I was it like I said, I was a business developer at the time. So I’ve always been quite inquisitive and I really had like a thirst for knowledge. So I started to go to expos and events. I’ve dragged my mom to Prague and Barcelona and Vegas. I don’t think my mom would ever begin to attend these kind of this events with her daughter, to be honest. But it happened. And at one of them, we discovered CBD and I took that. And it had the exact same effect that the cannabis did for me. But it was non psychotropic, which just essentially means that I did not get high from it. It just attaches to different receptors. It affects in different ways. And you don’t get high. So I switched from using full spectrum cannabis to CBD. So I didn’t experience that high feeling, essentially. 

Le’Nise [00:25:50] On a personal level, I love using CBD. I use it when, so I still sometimes get really painful periods. So I use it when my periods are really painful. And the effect is just it’s just amazing. It just you can feel the relief within like for me at it’s like ten minutes and I just I really love it. Talk a little bit about your your company. So Ohana, you told us about your journey from smoking cannabis and using topical cannabis with THC to then where you started Ohana with CBD. What made you go into this direction of deciding to actually build your company for yourself? 

Jasmin [00:26:42] So by this time, I think I’m like two years into medicating with cannabis and using CBD. And I just really loved it. It’s like, you know, sit at my desk in the City and it’s like all I wanted to talk about basically. It was a bit distracting, for everyone from work. And on reflection, I think I only ever got away with it because my family member was the CEO of the company, although I don’t think it would have been really tolerated, to be honest, talking about cannabis all day. And it made me very reflective,of wanting to live my most authentic self and my most, authentic life. And I definitely couldn’t do that in the job that I was doing because essentially I was just working with a lot of pharmaceutical companies, which I didn’t you know, I had questions that you probably shouldn’t have when you’re working so closely with them and they can maybe be seen as antagonistic. And it just didn’t really fit my, my kind of my lifestyle at that time and saying that I always like to disclose, like, you know, I’m a hundred percent not against allopathic medicine. Obviously, when I had meningitis, it absolutely saved my life. It just wasn’t the route that I was ready to take then, but I’m still in full support of it and I absolutely love it. And they are very grateful for the purposes of it and the way it serves us in everyday life. But yeah, and I kind of just didn’t feel like I was being my most authentic self. I thought, you know, I’ve got MS. It’s an unpredictable disease. I want to make sure that I am living my life exactly how I want to and to be able to to be able to be myself 100 percent, because that is something else I think really affects people’s symptoms. I think it is a lot of it can be a state of mind and our environment and the people that we surround yourself with. So I was like, okay, I want to leave this job and I want to start a job. And I knew I wanted it to be in the cannabis or CBD industry. I wanted to culminate all my passions. So after CBD, my second passion was clean beauty. So like I mentioned, I’d grown up on a very natural lifestyle. My mom had always made us skin care at home. She was very against me using sort of like, you know, traditional deodorant. And then at the age of 17, 18, I’d kind of like wavered from that path, into using kind of like everyday products that all my friends were using, you know, my friends were using Simple, I wanted to use Simple. If they’re using Nivea, I wanted to use Nivea and kind of just piling all this crap onto my body. Which then again, when I was diagnosed, I looked I thought, you know what? The average woman applies over 120 chemicals in her body every day. It builds up a toxic load. And I need to make sure that I am removing all of this from my body. So I kind of went back to how I was brought up and and looked at clean beauty. I’ve always been very obsessed with skin care and looking after my skin. So, yeah, it basically was a combination of my passions at that time, which was CBD, clean beauty and what I wanted to do to what I really wanted is I’ve always wanted clean beauty, but I really wanted it to work so well. I looked at Ohana is producing highly efficacious skin care products with clinically validated ingredients that have really similar results as a traditional counterpart would to produce highly functional natural skincare.  And so that’s how it came about. 

Le’Nise [00:30:25] That’s so interesting. And I think whenever I hear stories of female entrepreneurs and their journey to starting their business. It’s it’s so different, but there is always that one moment the spark that they have that gets them going. And then, you know, it’s interesting to hear the journey that they take from from that spark. So with the products there, you have a range. I know I’ve spoken to another female founder of a CBD brand, and she says that due to regulations, you can’t say you can’t talk about any kind of medical properties or make any claims about the products. So she has to talk about it as skin care. But she says that, you know, she can say anecdotally in conversation that yet, you know, it can affect certain areas of your health and you can use it forperiod pain. Is it similar for you? 

Jasmin [00:31:33] Yeah. So we try and lead with education. So if we if we leave with education, we are. I think this is really important for this market as well, where education is. It’s still a very new novel ingredient that people don’t know that much about. But if we leave with education and people can, they know what it is, they can make their own minds up with how they use it. 

[00:32:01] I mean, I have my story on the Web site, which sometimes does come up as a bit of an issue. And also we will post blogs. So we do post a lot of educational content. I remember we did actually post a blog a couple of weeks ago of how CBD could actually potentially help with psoriasis because there’s inflammatory properties and the MHRA did actually email me and be like, take this down right now. OK. But how we have overcome that is using the clinically proven plant based actives. So, for example, in our All In One Wonder Bomb our active is called Diam Oleoactif, it’s clinically proven to be double anti-inflammatory, free radical. And it’s in studies it was mostly it was mostly studied with the use of if you suffer from rosacea. So we have an ingredient in which we can make claims for that can help with the rosacea. 

Le’Nise [00:32:59] Where do you think the industry needs to go in order to connect the overwhelming anecdotal benefits of CBD with what’s available right now in terms of clinical research and clinical evidence? 

Jasmin [00:33:19] I think that we need more. There needs to be more studies, which I think will is definitely going to happen now. The regulations in America are changing where a lot of the education come from. And there’s a lot of education that comes from Israel as well. They are kind of like spearheading the the science backed kind of evidence. A lot of the evidence is coming out, as is Canada, because it’s completely legalised country now. I think education is just the most important thing. And empower. I see it one day is becoming like, you know, a vitamin just an everyday vitamin, like vitamin D would be or vitamin C and it becoming an everyday ingredient into into a multitude of products that we use  to wellbeing and our health. But I do think that there needs to be a really strong educational drive from brands. And that’s what we’ve done a year before we launched we just focused on education. So we just put our content and we put out interviews. We just really try to educate our consumer as much as possible so we don’t even necessarily have to make claims because people know what they’re using it for. So, you know, we get a lot of people that are maybe trying to manage arthritis pain or similar to me like MS pain or like knee pain. My cousin’s got fibromyalgia. She uses it. My uncle’s got lupus. And he has a lupus rash on his nose. We use that. My niece has eczema. We’ve used it on my niece. So I think it’s really just the education point that needs to be really driven. And I think there needs to be more quality from the brand owners to drive that basically. 

Le’Nise [00:35:08] And in terms of the industry, what I’ve seen from what I’ve read and different videos that I’ve seen online is it at the moment is very male dominated. And you set up the Entourage Network, which is a women’s empowerment organisation for people to engage and explore the cannabis market in Europe. What do you think needs to be done to bring more women into the space? 

Jasmin [00:35:41] So, yeah, Jessica Steinberg, who is a PhD student at Oxford exploring a subject matter on cannabis, which I can never actually remember off the top of my head, it’s a very, very long it’s very it’s got a very long name. Me and Jess met in a cannabis coworking space back in 2018, we were the only females there. So we’re like, okay, we’re going to be friends. We both have similar interests and there’s there’s no other women about. And what from my research from kind of like, you know, travelled across Europe and America. What I had seen that in America, they had a very high level of women in C level, C suite level positions and above that, but as every state legalised that number would decline because, you know, other industries come into it. It’s the same thing has happened in the UK so that we do have a really high level of female founders and female entrepreneurs in this space. But as legalisation becomes more dominant, you get other industries coming into it. You’ve got the VC world coming into a finance insurance and lawyers like really traditional industries that are already male dominated. So it’s very, very hard to have an equal female representation, however, because there is no blueprint of the cannabis industry. It is a really, really amazing opportunity for there to be equality from the offset. So I think it was really important for us at that time, as in the UK, it’s a nascent industry that we put in place a structure that allows women to be at the forefront of the industry and to have an equal stake in it as well. I think some of the issues that we have is, again, just like I said, you know, it’s not it’s traditional industries coming into it that are led by men. And then also it just comes down to the whole financing piece as well. It’s in securing outside investment. Women are you know, women only get like 0.2% of outside funding for their company as it is. Being woman of colour, being a Black woman that, you know, I’m in a 0.2% bracket of that. So we like to put together sessions and workshops that are going to enable women to overcome these issues. 

Le’Nise [00:38:04] Can you talk a little bit more about being a Black woman in this industry, so, in the US, for, example, the majority of people who are in prison for cannabis offenses are Black. I don’t know where the figures are in the UK. 

Jasmin [00:38:22] Pretty similar.

Le’Nise [00:38:24] OK. And then you see the people, as you mentioned, who are leading this industry. They are overwhelmingly White. So talk a little bit about your your view and your vision as a Black woman in this industry. 

Jasmin [00:38:41] So when I first started, I wasn’t really that conscious of it. But as I have grown in confidence and my voice and my position within the industry, then I have one, started to recognise it a lot more and become a lot more vocal about it. So I’ve been to a lot of the conferences in this industry can be really expensive as well. So I’ve been to 400 pound a day, eight hundred pound a day, thousand pound a day conferences. And that is a significant lack of Black people or ethnic minorities and women at these conferences. So what I make sure that I do is make the people who are holding the events accountable. So I asked them what they are doing, what their initiatives are to increase equality and an increase in equal representation.

One just happened the other day, actually. There is a group called Minorities for Medical Marijuana. It’s an American group and they do have a subset in the UK. And there was an event happening, an online event happening. And I emailed the CEO and I was like, look, I’ve been to one of your events in the past. There is an absolute lack of diversity. And the attendees. Can you give me some tickets so I can distribute them between the and the Minorities for Medical Marijuana group, which they were happy to do so. So I think it’s just about having a voice. I also there’s a lot of I remember once I was also sitting in one of the poshest private member’s clubs in Mayfair. I went to meet someone about investment and they were discussing projects that they had going on. And they had a project going on in Africa at the time. And they were really, really excited about it. And they wanted to distribute money into Ohana. And my question to them was, Okay, can you explain to me what you are then doing to empower the African people in the local areas and then also with jobs and, you know, uplift in the community? 

[00:40:57] And they were immediately unable to answer that to me. And that to me is absolutely unacceptable and expressing, you know, expressing how that needs to change. And I couldn’t I wouldn’t be necessarily willing to work with a company like that because it’s not aligned with my values. So I think holding each other accountable, being aware. And again, back to the education piece is really important for black people because in the UK it’s still not different. You know, you’re still 14 times more likely to be stopped and searched for cannabis if you’re a Black male in the UK and you’re still more likely to get harsher penalties and sentences. So that is something that I feel very passionate about and hope to continue to have a voice that can hopefully make a change. 

Le’Nise [00:41:56] If someone’s listening to this podcast, and  is thinking what can I do to make a change in this in this sector? What can I do, I’m really shook by these stats that that in just Jasmin has said about penalties and harsher, harsher penalties and stop and search. What can I do? What would you advise them? 

Jasmin [00:42:22] I think we’re getting that advise. I think it starts, you know, with everything that’s happening at the moment in the world and the drive of Black Lives Matter. And each and every one of us, everyone just educating themselves more and becoming aware of their unconscious bias. You know, I had this conversation with one of my old colleagues the other day. You know, I said, I know you never realised at the time, but this is every point of which I remember that you expressed a racist remark in front of me that made me feel extremely uncomfortable. 

[00:42:57] And I think, you know, with how much education there is going on, and awareness out there at the moment, this is really a good time to kind of like educate yourself and be mindful of that. And I think we all have to do it. I think nobody is. Everybody has unconscious biases. I think it’s really important that we all just use the many, many tools that are available and out there at the moment that we see every day on social media. We see it. We do Instagram. We see every day in our WhatsApp groups from our friends and family. And just making sure that we’re educating each other as much as possible. And then also just having the confidence to keep those around us accountable. 

Le’Nise [00:43:38] How can people find out more about the product? So you’ve just had a launch? I think it earlier it last week you had a launch. How can people access your products? 

Jasmin [00:43:54] Yep. So we launched last Monday. Our Instagram is @ohanacbd as you can research, our products at www.ohana-cbd.com. You will see the three products that we have on offer. So what we do is think, like we mentioned earlier, we use plant based actives combined with high functioning skin care and benefits of CBD are, you know, the kind of evidence that we have so far to be anti-inflammatory, anti ageing. It’s full of omega 3s and fatty acids. And it’s really good for  controlling free radicals, et cetera. So they are the kind of benefits.  We have three products, we have got an All in One Wonder Balm. We have a Night Repair Oil and we have a Day Defence Serum that is useful anti pollutant. So, for example, we use Marine Cell Shield, which is a clinically active, proven active that helps protect your skin against outside pollutants and Marine Blue Vital C, which is again a clinically proven active that combats signs of ageing and hyper pigmentation. On our website, you’ll be able to see like all our products or the information, we make it very transparent. So, you know, we state that we’re cruelty vegan and palm oil free and we’ll break it down. So, you know, I’m I’ve never really been a fan of this term 100 percent natural because I think that’s very misleading. So we break it down to be very specific. So will our products are, you know, maybe around ninety nine point seven percent natural or ninety seven point three percent natural. And so we try and be as honest and transparent as possible. And yep, you just get more education around our products and what we’re doing differently and how we are leading the CBD skincare industry for the UK. 

Le’Nise [00:45:48] Amazing. Well, congratulations on the launch. I’m really excited to try your products. Dive into the website. Try your products. If listeners take one thing away from everything that you’ve said on this podcast,  what would you want that to be? 

Jasmin [00:46:08] I would say. I always find this really difficult. I’ve actually been asked this quite a few times in the last few weeks, and I always want to say you do have a positive mindset. But I know that is not easy for everybody. I don’t like it. I don’t like it, too, to come across that I’m being nonchalant about that. My one bit of advice for everybody. My bit of advice actually is to always make sure that you have confidence in your voice and your living, your most authentic self. I think everything else falls into place after that. 

Le’Nise [00:46:53] Absolutely. I love that because I really relate to that right now. I was talking to someone yesterday about how I felt like in the last couple of months, my throat chakra had opened up and I have finally found my my voice after hiding it and suppressing it for so long. So I really relate to what you’ve just said. 

Jasmin [00:47:20] Yeah, I love that. I just think I think it’s this is the same I think we all going through a like a conscious shift at the moment where we all are empowering ourselves and all we’re feeling more confident for our voices to be heard, especially as women. Yeah. And I think that’s really important. Our mission for Ohana is first and foremost to just empower, empower women to live their best lives, essentially not. 

Le’Nise [00:47:51] Live your best life like Oprah!

Jasmin [00:47:56] That’s the best thing to live by. I literally every day I wake up and I just try and live my best life. 

Le’Nise [00:48:05] Oh, thank you so much for coming on the show, Jasmin. It’s so it’s been so great to chat to and listeners all of the links and to what Jasmin has been talking about and to Ohana will be in the show notes. So check those out and definitely head over to Jasmin’s Instagram @ohanacbd and check out her products. So thank you again. 

Jasmin [00:48:34] Thank you so much. It’s been a great way to start the day. 

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